Earthly Goods: Environmental Change and Social Justice

By Fen Osler Hampson; Judith Reppy | Go to book overview

Conclusion:
Liberalism Is Not Enough

JUDITH REPPY and FEN OSLER HAMPSON

THE environmental changes that have already occurred as a result of human activities, and the much greater changes that loom on the horizon, challenge our collective ability to alter our behavior. Adaptation to the changing environment will surely take place, and human beings may even develop measures to prevent or mitigate environmental change. The argument of this book has been that any such response to global environmental change must incorporate a concern for social justice and a respect for the well-being of the ecosystem. Ethical issues are not "add-ons" to the policy issues raised by environmental change, they are fundamental to the framing of the problems to be addressed and the search for acceptable solutions.Absent these moral concerns, we run the risk of devising environmental policies that will perpetuate inequity within and among societies and further damage the relationship between human society and the larger ecosystem.

Several main themes emerge from the chapters in this book. First, a focus on global environmental change and long-term sustainability requires rethinking our theories of justice. Second, our analysis should allow moral standing for communities as well as individuals. There is a serious question whether we should extend the same arguments to other sentient beings or to the ecosystem as a whole. Third, there is a similar difference of opinion about the potential for reforming the practices of the modern state to provide adequate protection for the environment and full participation by all peoples. Whereas some argue that fundamental changes in the nature of the state and the international state system are essential, others believe that the transition to

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